10 Actors on the Rise to Watch in 2016


Before awards season madness really kicks in and the movies of 2015 are a distant memory, it’s time to get excited about the stars of tomorrow as we celebrate a new year in cinema. Some of these promising actors have just started to establish themselves in higher profile roles, while others have yet to see a major breakthrough. These are the talented stars we’re excited about moving into 2016.

John Boyega

Genre fans already knew John Boyega was going places after seeing him in the indie sci-fi/horror-comedy Attack the Block, playing the resourceful leader of a teen gang that bands together to fight aliens. Boyega’s international status was secured after starring in J. J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Finn, a stormtrooper for the First Order who leaves ranks to fight against them after witnessing their abuse of power. “Even though Finn is the film’s funniest character, the script never goes so far as to turn him into mere comic relief,” wrote Matt Zoller Seitz in his review of the movie. “Boyega, so good in Attack the Block, brings sly wit to the role of a soldier grappling with a vaguely Jason Bourne-style crisis of conscience,” said Variety critic Justin Chang. Boyega’s next role is in James Ponsoldt’s The Circle, where he will play “Ty, the iconized boy-wonder visionary of the Circle, an Internet monopoly which links users’ personal emails, social media, banking and purchasing with their universal operating system. The result is one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. He and an employee (Emma Watson) develop a relationship as the perils of life in a digital age inevitably arise.”

Maika Monroe

Indie horror favorite Maika Monroe’s turn in The Guest and last year’s genre hit It Follows , playing a suburban teen stalked by a supernatural entity after a sexual encounter, led to casting the actress in one of 2016’s biggest films, Independence Day: Resurgence. She’ll play Patricia Whitmore, the President’s daughter (previously played by Mae Whitman), one of the sequel’s leading characters. There was a lot of controversy over the casting of Monroe instead of Whitman, which angered fans. Claims that Monroe was given the part solely because she fit Hollywood’s concept of the typical “hot girl” type are dismissive of the star’s talents. Monroe’s emotional subtleties in It Follows, an atypical horror movie devoid of jump scares around every corner, carried the film.

Independence Day lovers should also keep an eye on Monroe’s co-star Jessie Usher, the Survivor’s Remorse actor who will play Dylan Hiller, Will Smith’s all-grown-up son. “Usher flashes likable star power, but also has never been shy about embracing Cam’s youthful brattiness,” THR wrote of Usher’s character in the Starz sport’s comedy.

Alma Jodorowsky

Alma Jodorowsky, granddaughter of cult cinema icon Alejandro Jodorowsky, DJ, and lead singer in the French band Burning Peacocks, has had a successful modeling career as one of the faces of Lancôme, brand Opening Ceremony, and as a Karl Lagerfeld darling. She started acting as a teen in French television and played a supporting role in the sexually charged drama Blue Is the Warmest Colour . Jodorowsky has a leading role in the British film Kids in Love, alongside Will Poulter, Sebastian de Souza, and fellow model Cara Delevingne. The film sounds like Skins gone wilder: “A group of friends live their lives in London, imitating art and enjoying a fast-paced lifestyle.”

Gal Gadot

Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot made her film debut in the fourth movie of the Fast and Furious series, Fast & Furious. This led to an expanded role in the franchise’s next two films, in which she performed her own stunts (her time as a trainer in the Israeli Army helped). Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (and the future Justice League sequel and solo Wonder Woman movie) was met with the usual snide remarks about models turned actresses. Fanboy hate for Wonder Woman didn’t help her initial reception either. But Gadot has established herself in interviews as knowledgeable and dedicated, training hard for the part of the Amazon princess.

Michael B. Jordan

Jordan, who had an award-winning role in Fruitvale Station, wooed the world last month with his handsome family holiday photos and a starring role in Creed , the latest chapter in the Rocky saga, directed by Ryan Coogler. The actor played Adonis Johnson, the son of Rocky’s late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. Odie Henderson wrote of Jordan’s performance for RogerEbert.com: “Creed gives us a new hero, and Jordan is excellent at portraying him. The star, who worked with Coogler on the superb Fruitvale Station, conveys the confusion that many young people have while forging and accepting their identities. The moment he owns up to his heritage is intertwined with the film’s rousing, climactic boxing match but does not depend on it as a means of Donnie’s acceptance.”

Christopher Abbott

After a round as Marnie’s maddening ex in Girls , an excellent film debut in Martha Marcy May Marlene, an emotion turn in 2014’s A Most Violent Year, an underrated part in The Sleepwalker, and the title role in James White, Abbott continues to stretch his dramatic chops. His next projects, the war film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (starring Tina Fey) and the indie drama Katie Says Goodbye, about a teen prostitute in San Francisco, are currently in post-production. Hilltown, based on Lucy Thurber’s award-winning play (Abbott is an experienced stage actor), Where We’re Born, is also due out this year.

Anya Taylor-Joy

After an uncredited role in Mark Waters’ Vampire Academy and a few TV spots, model-actress Anya Taylor-Joy will appear in Robert Eggers’ critically acclaimed horror film The Witch , which Eggers won Best Director for at last year’s Sundance Film Festival (releasing in February). She’s currently working on Morgan , directed by Ridley Scott’s son Luke Scott, “about a corporate risk-management consultant who has to decide and determine whether or not to terminate an artificial being’s life that was made in a laboratory environment.”

Bel Powley

British stage and screen actress Bel Powley is still being recognized for her breakthrough performance in Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl . Previously, she had a long-running lead role in the TV series M.I. High and portrayed Princess Margaret in the bio comedy-drama A Royal Night Out, alongside Emily Watson and Rupert Everett. Powley has more than a handful of projects lined up for 2016, including A Storm in the Stars, playing a young Claire Clairmont in the Mary Shelley drama, as well as a part in the Kristen Stewart-starring sci-fi love story Equals, with no US release date just yet.

Katherine Waterston

Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs, and Queen of Earth yesterday, tomorrow the universe. The daughter of Law & Order actor Sam Waterston, Waterston the younger’s star continues to rise as the lead in the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Teyonah Parris

Dawn Chambers from Mad Men is out of the office for good. Teyonah Parris, a popular face in television who had her film breakthrough with the indie satirical drama Dear White People, garnered fantastic reviews for playing Lysistrata in Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq , inspired by the Aristophanes Classical Greek play about women withholding sex from men during wartime, forcing them to negotiate for peace. She appears as R&B singer Miki Howard in a bio-drama by Christine Swanson this year.